Seriously Dead proves that an old-style farce can still provide great entertainment - and had the Royal Hippodrome rocking with laughter on Saturday.

Writers and co-stars Leah Bell and Crissy Rock bring the best out of their own creation, which combines dated jokes and contrived chats to the audience with clever innuendo and brilliant comic timing. It proves a winning format.

Fellow vintage veterans Billy Pearce and Tommy Cannon add greatly to the fun, while the talented Paul Dunn switches from serious undertaker to hilarious song and dance man. Mike Redway's musical numbers fit in well, with Pearce and Bell treating us to a romantic duet.

Bell, who also directs, plays the deceased Thelma Henderson, denied entry through The Pearly Gates until she has the correct paperwork. Thelma watches over the one true love of her life, Billy Blenkinsopp (Pearce), a café owner dominated by his new wife Betty (Rock).

The plot centres around missing money which was stolen by Betty's former husband and fellow bank robber Albert Blunderstone (Cannon).

Finbar Healy plays eight cameo parts, including a prancing ladyboy. More comedy will be provided at the Hippodrome this summer by Brian Conley, Nicholas Parsons, Danny Baker and Tom Allen.

The Hippodrome licence holding company was taken over this month by Alex and Debbie Adams from Darren Weir, Jerome Farrow , Mike Lee and Ben Cooper. All deserve great credit for keeping variety alive at this magnificent old theatre.